As an organization our focus is primarily on development, utilizing a faith-based model with a focus on relationships, discipleship, and long-term commitment to our community. In January we were all excited about another year of working to help our clients continue to develop and grow.
But then the whole world started bleeding.
In El Salvador, we pivoted to staunch the flow. Our first move was to open an emergency shelter to provide a space for the homeless community to “shelter in place” when El Salvador went into martial law lockdown. We simultaneously pivoted to move the New Dawn Residential Program to a virtual model and suspended all of our regular programs.
The order came to close emergency shelters and we pivoted once again to provide assisted housing and family reunification for those in the shelter who needed it. Some of our clients wanted to continue in their journey to addiction recovery so we shifted them to residential rehabs, or continued follow-up treatment with our staff.
As the shelter closed, the storms came. The first week of June, a direct blow from Tropical Storm Amanda and a glancing blow from Tropical Storm Cristobal brought devastation to El Salvador and caused damage and displacement in coastal areas as well as throughout San Salvador. As people were pushed from their homes the virus spread, and by July the healthcare system had collapsed. The economy remained in complete shutdown. White flags waved as people were out of food, medicine, and supplies.
We continued to pivot and pivot again to stop the bleeding around us…to provide medications, to purchase food, to gather building supplies to repair leaking and flooded homes. We also became a drop-off point for donations that went to not only our clients but others in our community who found themselves in desperate need. The multi-layered crisis in El Salvador brought many people to our doorstep. People who were strong and gracious, but needed support to weather the storms coming on all sides.
The great blessing for El Salvador is that Salvadorans are strong, resilient, and creative people who are no strangers to suffering. Hope has not been lost, and everyone continues to put one foot in front of the other. It has been our great honor to offer emotional, physical, and spiritual support in these difficult days. We have maintained contact the best we can through phone calls, texts, and prayers. We also have done our best to provide physical care. Our emergency relief impact during the past months has included:
-619 bags of groceries delivered
-575 unique families assisted
-72 clients housed in our emergency COVID-19 quarantine shelter
-36 clients assisted with housing
-82 clients provided with medical assistance
Our response has enabled us to share Christ’s love in real and tangible ways. It has allowed us to bring hope into dark situations. Because we were in a position to pivot from development to relief we have seen that none of the trafficking survivors we serve have returned to the streets, and none of the boys from New Dawn have relapsed. These days have been difficult, but they have been rewarding. God is still working, and he cares so deeply for El Salvador.
As we pivot once again back into development, we want our clients to pivot as well. We want them to refocus, to think about the future again, and to start to dream. We hope that through our Keeping Dreams Alive campaign, you will join us as rebuild, look ahead, and dream once again!